Why I no Longer Draw for Commissions
First let me say, that the ONLY exceptions to the below are good photos, the right price, and where I am in my life schedule.
I’ve had to write this letter in response to the many requests I get for drawing. CURRENTLY I am NOT accepting commission work, for the following reasons. I hope none of these answers sound arrogant; they are simply my honest feelings.
1) Inspiration: Drawing is my main escape from all the stress and pressures of life. It’s my down time, my ME time, my time to enjoy one of the few passions I have found this life. Just like everyone, my free time is very limited. When I find time to draw, I want to make the most of it! First of all, I discovered that I am FIRST motivated to draw by INSPIRING Photos! I am FIRST attracted to HIGH RESOLUTION photos that offer a WIDE RANGE of CONTRAST, light sources, and TONAL VALUES. The SUBJECT also inspires me, but on a secondary level. HOWEVER, when I set out to find a quality photo of a specific person (that meets the above description), and I am unable to find such a photo, either because it doesn’t exist, or is too small to print for a reference photo, then I must find someone else to draw.
Needless to say, if I hold myself to these standards, when making a yes or no decision to draw someone, what are the chances that someone will give me an inspirational photo? Sadly, it’s very rare. Besides hopefully improving my drawing skills over time, I know I have gotten MUCH better at selecting reference photos from the Internet. I got tired of people giving me uninspiring, boring photos that offer no contrast, or were too blurry, too small, or had poor light sources, etc, etc, etc. Never mind the fact that I am uninspired to draw a stranger. The ONLY exception I have had to date is my daughter Maggie’s photography at http://www.MaggieFortsonBlog.com because she takes the kind of photos of people that hit me right in the face and makes me say, “I MUST DRAW THIS!!!” She just has a gift that way!
2) Time = Money: I never started drawing with the idea that maybe I could make some money doing it. Thankfully, I have never drawn because I needed the money. Even the classes I taught were just for fun, the challenge, and because everyone I know thought I should do it. On another note, I draw very small. I NEED to. I can cram a lot of details into a small space. But who wants a small drawing? A larger sized drawing affects my techniques, wrist movements, etc and even a 5×7 inch drawing takes me 5 to 10 hours to complete (details, hair, etc contingent). Up until now, I simply cannot bring myself to charge the amount of money it would take to make it worth my time, and I understand why folks would not want a 5×7 drawing. Just a 20% increase in SIZE equals a 50% increase in time. Bottom line, I would end up making minimum wage or less, so as for income, I am better off investing that time into my business and using my drawing time to draw what I want to draw.
3) Pressure: I hold myself to a pretty high standard when it comes to doing my best effort on a drawing, but there is no pressure, just a self-imposed challenge? In the past when I drew for someone, I found a pressure on me to do my best, but a fear that the client would not be satisfied.
You may have heard the phrase, “do what you love, and you will never work a day in your life”. That would be true for me, if some corporation hired me to draw celebrities for a living, but that’s not the case (haha). When I found that I had a true passion for drawing, in October of 2008, I later had the thought that if I drew for money, it would become work, which is exactly what I discovered when I drew for commissions. The WHOLE time I was drawing for someone, I was wishing I could be drawing some other great photo I had just found, or was fearful it wouldn’t turn out good, etc.
So, as I think this all though, I would be open to commissioned work in the future, but for now, the ONLY exceptions would be if the client were to provide me with AMAZING photos and we agreed on price.